Neos Kosmos journalist and filmmaker Mike Sweet’s documentary on Aboriginal WWII soldier Reg Saunders has received a boost, after the project was approved earlier this month by the Documentary Australia Foundation.
Mr Sweet told Neos Kosmos that the foundation’s support would make a major difference to completing the project, which he began filming in Crete three years ago.
Entitled Odyssey of a Warrior, the documentary traces the life of Reg Saunders, the Australian Army’s first Aboriginal officer and focuses on his experiences in Crete during and after the German invasion.
“This is a big step forward. It will enable future investors in the film to have their donations tax deductable – which I hope will be an additional incentive to back the project,” said Mr Sweet, a former BBC documentary producer.
“Last year a number of private sponsors from the Greek community in Sydney were very generous in helping research the project further. They shared my enthusiasm for this amazing story, which links Australia and Greece in a very profound way.
“I hope others can now come on board to help the project’s completion.”
A multi-layered drama-documentary, Odyssey of a Warrior will tell Reg Saunders’ life story, from growing up in western Victoria to leaving Port Melbourne on a troopship as a 19-year-old Digger in the opening days of WWII.
The film will also focus in detail on his time in Crete in 1941 and 1942, where, like many ANZAC soldiers after the Battle of Crete, he was protected by the Cretans – in Saunders’ case, villagers in the mountains south of Rethymno.
The film also tells the story of the journey his children and grandchildren made to Crete in 2010, to thank the Zacharakis family who protected him.
Earlier this year, Mr Sweet approached the ABC and SBS to commission the project. Both have so far declined.
“The ABC initially showed interest in the project, but dropped it once they confirmed I was not of Indigenous heritage, which I think is something of an indictment of their commissioning system,” says Sweet, whose approach now is to secure independent funding to complete the film within 12 months, distribute it commercially on DVD, and then offer it to broadcasters.
Rarely-seen archive material, dramatic reconstruction, and sequences filmed in both Greece and Australia will be used in the film, which has access to exclusive personal records and photographs given to the production by the Saunders family.
To view an extended trailer of Odyssey of a Warrior, visit